Find out about our building works
The National Library is making improvements to our much-loved heritage building. Follow our progress as we protect the collection and maintain our beautiful building by:
Replacing the copper roof that was severely damaged in the 2020 hailstorm
Restoring some of the brass framed heritage windows
Updating part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
Improving how we store the collections kept on site
Refurbishing the digitisation and photography labs.
The collection grows, on average, by 2-2.5kms per year. The building improvements have been designed to ensure we use our available space as efficiently as possible and safeguard the collection for future generations.
All building works have relied on the advice of and input from conservators, heritage experts, architects and engineers.
How our building works will impact you
If you’re climbing Mt Ainslie or up in a hot air balloon, you will be able to watch the progress of the new copper sheeting being installed on the roof over the next 16 months. Large, white, weather-proof oblong domes will be used to cover the roof while the copper panels are being installed. The gleaming copper sheeting will be revealed as the installation progresses from the front of the building nearest Questacon to the rear facing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
At regular intervals a large crane will be installed to deliver building materials and the copper sheeting to the roof for installation.
Level 4 of the building is closed to the public while the roof works are underway.
The ageing window frames on the two sides of the building facing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Patrick White Lawns will be gradually replaced in 2023.
The windows on the ground floor, including the stained-glass windows, are not being replaced over this time period – the work will happen on level 1 to level 4.
Scaffolding and hoardings will be installed so the windows can be replaced and there will be some noise filtering through into the building.
Interesting fact - the windows are installed vertically – and will be replaced vertically.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
The Library stores part of the collection on site in areas that are not open to the public. When you visit the Library you can request collection material to be delivered to the Reading Rooms. As part of our ongoing stewardship and care for these collections, the Library is upgrading about a third of the HVAC system – focusing on the areas where these collections are stored.
While visitors may hear some noise filtering through to the Reading Rooms, exhibition galleries, Bookplate and Bookshop, the Library took advantage of the lockdowns and continued the HVAC works while the building was closed to the public.
Temporary changes to collection access
Some collection storage areas will be temporarily closed, limiting access to some collection material. The improvements will take place on a rolling basis from 6 June 2022. Different collection storage areas will be impacted at different times.
Library visitors should continue to request collection deliveries to the Reading Rooms as usual. More information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on our page on temporary changes to collection access.
Improvements to digitisation and photography areas
One way the Library provides access to its collections is by creating and making accessible on Trove digital copies of physical collection material (digitisation). The workspaces devoted to this work have been modernised and increased in size in order to meet the growing demand for digitised content. This work was completed in 2022.
These projects have been funded by the Australian Government, including from the Library’s annual appropriation or special projects funding. Insurance is helping fund the roof restoration.